The Gap Between Common Sense And A Coup
Following on from the post about the High Court judgment against the Malaysian Solution the other day, I had the rare opportunity to ask one of our preeminent human rights lawyers about our constitution and government – specifically about the spectre I raised the other day of “what happens if the Prime Minister pushes for policy and orders the ADF to ship the asylum seekers to Malaysia, ignoring the High Court’s decision?”
The answer I got back was that the High Court would issue an injunction against that course of action, which in turn would lead to the ADF desisting.
“Even if it was a direct order from the Prime Minister?” I asked. And he said yes, because the top level of the ADF reports to the rule of law itself.
“What if the generals agreed with the Prime Minister and followed orders and did it?” I asked.
“Well then, you would have a coup.”
As in Coup D’etat.
The way he explained it, the top level brass of the ADF are answerable to the rule of law, (and not the office of the Prime Minster) which is an abstraction of what is allowable under the law. Which is why the General would exercise common sense and desist when the injunction came; and is exactly the common sense being practised by the Prime Minister in not pursuing such a radical course of action to push policy, according to the preeminent human rights lawyer.In fact all of our top level government runs on the assumption that all these people will act with this common sense.
In fact, he went on, when the whole Gough Whitlam dismissal was going on, a Unionist piped up and told Gough he should mobilise the army to stop the Governor General getting his way. Whitlam dismissed the suggestion as being outrageous – and lacking in common sense – and so he never went to the army to back his government in 1975. And this, according to the preeminent human rights lawyer, is how democratic government is practiced in a civlilised nation.
I have to tell you I felt very afraid that the only thing standing in the way of a coup was the presumption of common sense being held by people in power. I look at Tony Abbott and the way he carries on and I doubt he has anything like what we would call common sense. I would live in fear that he would be entirely short of such common sense.
I share this with you all in the best spirit that may we all live under a government with plentiful common sense.
The Big Protest
Making the news today was the crowd of 30,000 + people in the domain protesting against the NSW government’s attack on the public sector workers. They seem to do this every time a conservative government gets into office in NSW. I seem to recall they did this in the early 1990s when Nick Greiner got in, and the protests did nothing. They had the numbers and did as they pleased.
Big Warwick reports that the Police Union were there which was good for moral support, but that the prison wardens were there. “Who’s looking after the prisoners today then?” asked some wag. If the Health Sector Union were in there, then it meant the mentally ill were also on the loose, so to speak. Crazies and Prisoners running riot was a nice mental image.
I get that these unions are angry to have their pay rises indexed at 2.5% which is below CPI – and we all know that CPI tends to under-report inflation. It’s a kind of bad faith by the NSW Government. It’s also part of a global trend in the wake of the GFC to try and pare back public spending. Why should these people take a pay cut? Because if they don’t the NSW Government will have to sack a whole bunch of them instead. You can see both sides of the argument if you step back and look at it calmly, but nobody is ever going to be calm when it’s their hip pocket (and you certainly have to respect that too).
The irony that doesn’t get missed is that when it comes to politicians giving themselves a pay rise, they never say no.